First Lines: Blaze

Richard Bachman died in 1985 of cancer of the pseudonym, shortly after releasing his novel Thinner. In 1995, another book was unearthed, a novel called The Regulators, which had remarkable similarities to Desperation by Stephen King, that was released at the same time.

Now, in 2007, another one of Bachman’s early novels has resurfaced. Blaze tells the story of Clayton Blaisdell, jr. — Blaze to his chums — who kidnaps a baby for ransom. But frankly, that doesn’t matter a bit: what matters is that this might be the best of the bunch. Blaze is a cleary well-developed character, the narrative just flows gently along… none of the other Bachman books have so much going for them. Alas, it looks like the well is dry now. ‘Tis a pity, I say, ’cause I would have loved more of this. Tell sai Bachman I say thankee.

Book read
Richard Bachman — Blaze
First line
George was somewhere in the dark.

First Lines: The Right Hand of God

One of the things this website still misses, besides a decent layout, is an archive section with my old weblog. If there was one, I could have linked to the posts covering the first two parts in Russell Kirkpatrick’s Fire of Heaven trilogy. So here’s the summary: in Across the Face of the World, the first book, some peasants from a faraway part of some vast realm called Faltha find out that their neighbors are planning to invade them, just like they did two thousand years before. They set out to warn the council in the capital, but before they get there, a lot of stuff happens. In part two, In the Earth Abides the Flame, the company find out that council is corrupt, and some of them set out to find some fabled flaming arrow, to unite the land once again and rise against their enemies as one. As you might expect, while doing that, more stuff happened.

In the last book, The Right Hand of God, even more stuff happened. The company raised an army, march out to meet the enemy, they fight, loose, try to be cunning, don’t succeed at that,  are marched back in defeat to the capital by their new evil overlord, and manage to defeat him with some strange divine magic. All’s well that ends well.

In book two, Kirkpatrick introduced a religious subplot that started to annoy me very quick. As you might expect from the title, that subplot got fleshed out in book three. Basically, the main character turned out to be The Prophesied One Who Accepteth His Task Reluctantly. And this lead to behavior that would make any self-respecting  goth jealous. Yes, it was that annoying.

If you’re able to look past the religiousness (that has many similarities to ye-olde-Christianity) of especially the last two books, I’d say that it’s an entertaining read. But it never gets better than average fantasy stuff either.

Russell Kirkpatrick — The Right Hand of God
Two proud men faced each other over a low stone table.

First Lines: Firestarter

As the result of a secret government experiment gone FUBAR, Andy McGee gained some limited psychic powers. When a few years later his daughter Charlie is born, it becomes very clear that she got an even bigger ‘gift’. She is able to start fires. Of course, the same government agency who did the tests, The Shop, becomes very interested in the little girl. A chase and kidnapping follow, which in turn lead to a break out. And a lot of fire. A real freaking lot of fire. Go figure.

Book read
Stephen King — Firestarter
First line
Daddy, I’m tired, the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully. Can’t we stop?

First Lines: Gaudí in Manhattan

Back in September 2004 I was in Barcelona for a couple of days. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I should have, since I was sick for about half of the trip. Must’ve been something I ate.

One of the things that I did get to enjoy, was what’s finished of Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia. Stylistically, it’s a grotesque mess. But a lovely mess. Over the past few years and trips I’ve seen a lot of churches, but besides St. Peter’s in Rome I can’t think of one that made an impression as big as this one did. When I go back to Barcelona, I’ll just have to go and see what kind of progress they’ve made.

In Gaudí in Manhattan, the master is invited to design a skyscraper. If he agrees to do so, he will be rewarded with enough money to complete the construction of the Sagrada Familia. Strange things happen, end of story. With just sixteen pages of text, this lushly designed “book” should be seen as an attempt to whet the appetite for the real follow up of The Shadow of the Wind. Which it does.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón — Gaudí in Manhattan (translated by Nelleke Geel)
Jaren later, toen ik gadesloeg hoe de rouwstoet van mijn meester door de Paseo de Gracia trok, moest ik denken aan het jaar dat ik Gaudí leerde kennen, en hij mijn lot voorgoed veranderde.

I’m in

Sweet Holy Mother of All Things Bright and Shiny… I’m connected to the interwebs.